By Sydney Witwer
While many students prepared for the Snowball dance, indoor sports games, or weekend family plans, a worldwide celebration occurred on Friday February 7th. The event known as “Night to Shine” is an annual event in support of the Tim Tebow Foundation, whose goal is to bring “faith and hope to those in their darkest hour of need.” The event is known as a prom for individuals in the community with physical or mental disabilities; Lancaster is just one of the numerous locations that this event is held at.
The Tim Tebow Foundation is based off of the idea that everyone deserves to be loved and appreciated. The foundation emulates the Christian beliefs to love everyone, as well as appreciate Jesus. The Night to Shine event emulates these values by holding frequent prayers throughout it. The Tim Tebow Foundation brings together faith and family to create an unforgettable experience for the guests.
Prior to the event, volunteers registered and completed a training course with the event coordinator in Lancaster, Joell A. Ketcham. The training session mainly was to set up jobs for the hundreds of participating volunteers, as well as to say a few friendly reminders.
On Friday February 7th hours before the event started the Spooky Nook complex was packed. Honored guests had the choice if they wanted to arrive around 4:30 to get their hair and makeup done by stylists. The pure looks of joy on the faces of the stylists and their clients touched my heart as I passed by the salon.
Prior to the entrance of the honored guests, Ketcham made sure all volunteers were ready, and those over 16 years old were paired with a buddy. Other volunteers were assigned to be waitresses or part of the paparazzi committee. Before the event began, Ketcham gathered the volunteers close together to say a final prayer before the event. As she spoke the words of the prayer, the room swirled with emotions of excitement and gratitude for the opportunity we were all participating in.
Guests rapidly filled the room and sat at their assigned tables for dinner, and once all were seated, the melody of Beauty and the Beast “Be Our Guest” played as the participants were served dinner. Food options were gluten and dairy free, and accommodations were made for all guests with dietary restrictions.
As the music played in the background, characters Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, and Belle from Beauty and the Beast met with the guests and took photos with them. The energy of the room was high as eager guests chatted with friends and beamed at their surroundings.
Immediately following dinner, the excitement began. The center of this excitement was the limo ride that all guests were welcome to partake in. Each table was given a designated time of night to take the limo if they desired around the perimeter of The Nook.
Once the limousine rides ended, guests were ushered to a red carpet. At the carpet, guests were all crowned either king or queen, followed by their choice of how to strut down the carpet.Spencer Landon, Freshman at Manheim Township, commented on the environment of the night: “overflowing amounts of joy I felt seeing everybody there having the time of their lives!” These feelings were amplified by the parents, escorts, and especially guests-some opting to go down the red carpet as many as three times
The intensity of emotion at the red carpet was indescribable. The crowd was roaring for four straight hours, never getting off of their feet. The audience was filled with children, family, cheerleaders, and many others, whose constant level of energy kept the night running smoothly.
The personality of each and every participant flourished on the red carpet, whether it be the guest who wanted to be introduced as “Micheal Jackson” or the guest who walked down with a huge grin. As each guest went down the carpet, each blended into the next, but for some of them that short moment was the most important moment of their day. With this knowledge, I was further motivated to stay energized, because I knew the impact I was having on the people.
Besides the red carpet debut, there were many other activities for guests to participate in. Karaoke was shown to be very popular with the guests, who used it as a time to sing their heart out surrounded by a roaring crowd. Song choices ranged from “Call Me Maybe” to “Hey Jude”, and every singer was uniquely entertaining. Even though I was at the red carpet for the entire night, the melody of the karaoke crowd hummed in my ears.
Guests could also take a break from the festivities, and go to sensory rooms with dogs and kittens to relax with. An ice cream bar was also offered in case the guests wanted to cool down during the intense excitement of the night.
The dance floor was full the entire night. Guests and their escorts danced together most of the night, some never leaving the floor. The booming music electrified the crowd, and the guests used this opportunity to strut their dance moves.Those that left the floor only left briefly to take a photo in the photo booth or to get more food.
Parents of the honored guests were led to a room away from the festivities, so they would be allotted time to relax and bond with each other. Not only is this event for the guests, but for the families as well.
Being a new volunteer I was not sure what to expect coming into this. But after attending the event I can confirm it is one of the most amazing places to be. The excitement of the guests, emotion by guardians, and overall love and support shown there was impeccable. The event was a perfect presentation of the Tim Tebow foundation’s goals of bringing “ Faith, Hope and Love to those needing a brighter day.”
Senior Allison Cubell participated in this event as well. Her guest pair for the night was former MTHS student Sophia. The two ate ice cream, sang karaoke, and danced throughout the night to the booming music. Cubell smiled when she discussed her favorite part of the night, “ seeing how happy her and all her friends were!” Sophia was one of the many participants that had the time of their lives!